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American Beauty (DVD) Review

Nominated for eight Academy Awards, and winner of five including Best Picture, American Beauty is one of the best films of all time. Exploring the depths of the American Dream - a good job, a nice house, the perfect marriage, etc. - the film is dripping with symbolism and satire. A cinematic study of societal dysfunction, American Beauty will affect a broad range of emotions within its viewing audience, and it'll make you laugh as well. This is a great movie, and although some people will shy away from it, everyone should see American Beauty at least once so they can form their own opinion.

Kevin Spacey plays the role of Lester Burnham, a middle-aged suburban resident who seemingly lives the American Dream. He and his wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) have a nice house, a beautiful daughter Jane (Thora Birch), and successful careers. But things aren't always as they seem. In reality, the Burnham's are the definition of dysfunctional. They fight over everything, screaming at the dinner table about ridiculous things such as vegetables. Carolyn is engaged in an affair with rival real estate broker Buddy Kane (Peter Gallagher), and Lester is suffering from a creeping depression/mid-life crisis.

Meanwhile, Jane is developing an infatuation with the strange boy who recently moved in next door, Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley) - a drug dealer/homespun director with a homophobic Marine Corps father, Frank. When the source of Frank's homophobia bubbles to the surface, we learn that - just like the Burnham's - most of the neighborhood is living a different life from that which shows on the outside…

Kevin Spacey follows up his amazing performances in The Usual Suspects and L.A. Confidential with his Academy Award for Best Actor in this film. Some of the funniest scenes in American Beauty involve the depressed Lester Burnham and his mid-life crisis meltdown. The way in which Spacey walks out of his job is utterly hilarious, and his weed-smoking, weight-lifting regimen in an effort to get pumped up and impress his daughter's friend is classic. But Spacey's performance is not alone. His brilliant role is complimented by Annette Bening's Oscar-caliber transformation into Lester's bitchy, cut-throat real-estate broker wife, Carolyn Burnham. Together, the two can stage an onscreen fight like no other fake married couple in cinema history, and it's a true pleasure to watch.

American Beauty is further strengthened by Chris Cooper's role as the Burnham's homophobic neighbor (October Sky, The Patriot, Seabiscuit) and Mena Suvari's role as the big-talking school girl Angela Hayes, object of Lester's desires (Kiss The Girls, American Pie). American Beauty is a film bursting with stage talent, one that benefits from solid direction, a well-designed screenplay, and superb dialogue. Odds are, you'll either love it or hate it. But irrespective of your final take, American Beauty will invoke passion one way or the other. That's why this film ranks as a definite must-see.

Submitted by:

Britt Gillette

Britt Gillette is author of The DVD Report, a blog where you can find more reviews like this one. Source: http://thedvdreport.blogspot.com/2005/03/american-beauty-dvd.html





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